Before the 2013 season began, I thought that if the Red Sox had any chance this season, the keys to moving on up would be that both Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz would have to pitch like aces.
For the first two weeks, they sure have.
Lester pitched another dandy on Saturday, holding Tampa Bay to one earned run over seven innings, in a great pitcher's duel with David Price. The Sox pulled it out, 2-1, in 10 innings on Shane Victorino's infield single.
Lester is currently 2-0, with a 1.42 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. He has struck out 18 in 19 innings.
Meanwhile, Clay Buchholz has been even more spectacular out of the gate. He flirted with a no-hitter on Sunday, losing it on Kelly Johnson's broken bat single to begin the eighth inning. That's not really important, as he shut down Tampa Bay on just two hits over eight innings in getting the win, 5-0.
Buchholz is now 3-0, with an otherworldly ERA of 0.42, and WHIP of 0.95. (He has walked four in both has last two starts however.) He also has 23 strikeouts in 22 innings, and struck out 11 yesterday, just the second time in his career he has fanned in double figures in a game.
The Red Sox pitching overall has just been fantastic. The starters have allowed three earned runs or less in the first 11 games, which is a team record (the 1916 Red Sox broke from the gate with 9 straight, the old record).
Obviously, Lester and Buchholz can't keep up this pace, but they are clearly motivated and the return of John Farrell has helped them both enormously.
The Red Sox go for the sweep today, with the Patriots Day game at Fenway beginning at 11:05 AM.